June 27, 2011 | by Ben Crawford
I love Asteroids and Super Stardust HD. I love difficult games, I love vertical shooters, and I am one of the hundreds with the Xperia Play. Sinister Planet is an amalgamation of all these games types. It is most visibly similar to Asteroids, with better graphics, but still retaining the retro-look.
The gameplay of Sinster Planet is again very similar to Asteroids, with a hint of Super Stardust in that you can collect bonuses and level-ups throughout the game. The basic idea is to destroy asteroids throughout the level (these can’t hurt you) while gathering the stars/gems that are produced. However, there are other ships that try to get to these gems before you do, and they turn into kamikaze ships if they get the gems. The last level of a world has a “power grid” (buildings) that you have to destroy while trying not to be destroyed. Where the game differentiates itself from the other games I’ve named, is in its difficulty.
Merely shooting and leveling your ship is fun, but it is also repetitive. This game is a little repetitive, however, the difficulties ramp up immensely as the game progresses; more enemies, faster enemies, same difficult gameplay. The most difficult learning curve I found was with the controls. It has the standard on-screen controls, one for movement and one for shooting. The trick is basic, recognizable, and yet largely works. Instead of having the shooting controller shoot in different directions, it only shoots. If you release the button, it stops shooting, but you cannot direct where your shots go. Instead, wherever you move/point your ship, that’s where it shoots. So it can only shoot in the same direction you’re moving. While this is “Goldeneye-ish,” it still conveniently ups the difficulty but keeps a very familiar feel. On top of controlling your speed and momentum, you also have to watch what’s coming around you because you can’t shoot anything you’re not looking at. There are some replay and added bonuses like achievements and online leaderboards, but the difficulty is the draw of the game.
My only gripes with Sinister Planet are the rather non-instructive levels. None of the levels tell you exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. Do you have to collect a certain number of gems? Do you need to destroy all the ships or asteroids? It’s never specific with what you have to do; it just tells you “Wave 1 Clear”. And, on a personal note, the Xperia Play controls would be great for this game. You have to move while shooting and dodging, and if this isn’t your type of game, you won’t beat it. Although, apparently only one person has beat it so even you hardest of core out there may not be able to do it. It’s not innovative gameplay, stellar story, or unimaginable beauty that make this is a must-buy game. What it is is a challenge, daring you to try to beat it. So if you like Asteroids or Super Stardust HD, I would highly suggest trying it out. It will motivate and kill you until you throw your phone down and break it or throw it up in celebration.
App: Sinister Planet
Developer: Neolithic Software